ONLY A TRUE CITY SINCE incorporating in 1984, West Hollywood’s fame as an LGBTQ+ destination goes back much further. In the 1950s, a nightclub called Ciro’s hosted the world’s first Sunday afternoon tea dances for gay men. In 1984 the city elected its first openly lesbian mayor, and in 1985 West Hollywood also became the first U.S. city to legally recognize same-sex relationships. Today more than 40 percent of its residents identify as LGBTQ+, and Visit West Hollywood, the city’s tourism organization, plays up the city’s appeal with LGBTQ+ globetrotters. If you want to see what a modern LGBTQ+ community looks like, this is the place.
Navigate West Hollywood easily by breaking it down into three main districts: the Sunset Strip, lined with hotels, restaurants and entertainment; the West Hollywood Design District, where shoppers pick up the latest designer styles; and Santa Monica Boulevard, serving as a hub for the city’s LGBTQ+ nightlife. Here locals and visitors alike stop at popular venues like the Abbey, a restaurant by day and a dance club by night; GYM, an LGBTQ+ sports bar; and Fiesta Cantina, a relaxed LGBTQ+ bar also serving Mexican food.
If bar food isn’t your thing, not to worry. West Hollywood overflows with sophisticated dining options, including Aburiya Raku for Japanese, Connie and Ted’s for seafood, and E.P. + L.P. for pan-Asian dishes. Or for a lively drag brunch, consider taking a table at Hamburger Mary’s, where drag bingo and live entertainment are part of the experience.
Top accommodation choices include Andaz West Hollywood, a legendary hotel once nicknamed “Riot House” because of the flocks of misbehaving rock stars and celebrities who stayed there. Jim Morrison, Led Zeppelin and Little Richard may be long gone from its corridors, but the property has been reborn with stylish décor, an excellent rooftop pool and extensive amenities like a free daily wine hour. Other noteworthy upscale hotels include the elegant Sunset Tower Hotel; trendy The Standard, Hollywood; and the swanky Mondrian LA.
June will prove an especially festive time to visit West Hollywood this year when the city hosts the 50th anniversary of LA Pride, Southern California’s largest LGBTQ+ pride event. Look for multiple days of live music, dance and parties, as well as a vibrant parade along Santa Monica Boulevard.
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